Islamophobia by United States airlines, animated cartoon


This satiric animated cartoon by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

23 April 2016

Now that Pope Francis made the wonderful symbolic gesture of flying twelve Syrian refugees to Rome on his plane, let’s take a look at what it’s like for Muslims flying on planes in the United States. If you’re Muslim, whether you’re a US citizen or not, it turns out you might want to allot a little extra time for being detained after getting kicked off your flight.

Australian government, stop imprisoning refugees, Papua New Guinea court decides


This video says about itself:

Guantánamo of the Pacific”: Australian Asylum Seekers Wage Hunger Strike at Offshore Detention Site

22 January 2015

A massive hunger strike is underway at what some are calling “the Guantánamo Bay of the Pacific.” The Manus Island detention center is paid for by the Australian government and run by an Australian contractor, Transfield Services, but located offshore on Papua New Guinea’s soil. The inmates are not accused of any crimes — they are asylum seekers from war-ravaged countries who are waiting indefinitely for their refugee status determinations.

They are asking the United Nations to intervene against the Australian federal government’s plan to resettle them in Papua New Guinea, where they say they could face persecution. Some have barricaded themselves behind the detention center’s high wire fences; others have resorted to increasingly drastic measures such as drinking washing detergent, swallowing razor blades, and even sewing their mouths shut to protest their confinement. We speak with Australian human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Alex Kelly, a social justice filmmaker who organized a New York City vigil in solidarity with the Manus Island detainees.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Papua New Guinea court finds Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal

April 26, 2016 – 11:02PM

Nicole Hasham, Michael Gordon

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says about 900 men being held at the Manus Island detention centre will not be brought to Australia after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled their detention was illegal.

The decision strikes one of the central pillars of the Turnbull government’s border protection regime, just weeks out from an election campaign during which the government is expected to heavily spruik its asylum seeker record. …

The court ruled the detention breached the constitutional right of asylum seekers to personal liberty. It ordered the Australian and PNG governments to immediately cease the “unconstitutional and illegal detention of asylum seekers” at Manus Island, and stop the breach of their human rights. …

The vast majority of men in the detention centre have been found to be refugees. The court ruling said they were seeking asylum in Australia but were “forcefully brought into PNG” and locked in an Australian-funded centre “enclosed with razor wire“. …

Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs said the unanimous ruling by five judges was “further confirmation that Australia’s detention policies are increasingly out of step with international norms”.

Professor Triggs said the future of men on Manus Island remained “profoundly uncertain”, citing UNHCR concerns that the sustainable integration of refugees into the PNG community “will raise formidable challenges and protection concerns”.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the reported court ruling showed Australia “has been illegally detaining refugees on Manus Island for years”.

“The [Turnbull] government has got to shut the Manus Island detention camp and bring these people here… so that they can have their claims assessed and be integrated into the community,” she said.

“These people have been through enough. It’s time they were given the safety and care that they deserve.”

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said the decision was consistent with international law which stated that indefinite detention was unlawful.

The ruling also meant asylum seekers could likely make successful claims for damages for false imprisonment, and strengthened claims that Australia had breached its duty of care to asylum seekers.

“If Australia ignores the decision then it is contradicting its oft-stated claim that Manus Island detention is a matter for PNG jurisdiction,” he said.

Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said the ruling was a “massive victory for asylum seekers and refugees” who had been detained for almost three years.

“PNG’s Supreme Court has recognised that detaining people who have committed no crime is wrong. For these men, their only ‘mistake’ was to try to seek sanctuary in Australia – that doesn’t deserve years in limbo locked up in a remote island prison,” Ms Pearson said in a statement.

“It’s time for the Manus detention centre to be closed once and for all.”

She said the detention centre had caused “severe mental health impacts. These refugees have suffered enough, it’s time for them to finally move on and rebuild their lives in safety and dignity”.

In March, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the Manus Island detention centre must eventually close, and was a “problem” that had done more damage to his nation’s reputation than any other factor.

PNG Prime Minister Says Manus Island Detention Centre Will Close: here.

In what amounts to an indictment of the Australian political establishment, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the imprisonment of refugees in an Australian-controlled detention facility on PNG’s remote Manus Island was unconstitutional: here.

Egypt’s dictator gives away islands to Saudi Arabia, people protest


This video says about itself:

Egyptian Female Activist Shaima al-Sabbagh Killed By Police In Tahrir Square Protest

24 January 2015

Shocking moment: female socialist activist is gunned down by police during demonstrations on 4th anniversary of Arab Spring against Hosni Mubarak

A woman was killed on Saturday in Cairo after the police fired shotgun pellets at a handful of socialist activists marching to Tahrir Square with flowers to commemorate the hundreds of demonstrators killed there during the revolution that began on Jan 25 2011 witnesses said.

A health ministry spokesman said Shaima al-Sabbagh died of birdshot wounds, which fellow protesters said were fired by police to disperse the march. Al Sabbagh who was said to be … with a five year old son, was shot while she peacefully marched towards the Tahrir Square to lay a commemorative wreath of roses.

Egyptian activists shared graphic images of Ms. Sabbagh’s last moments on social networks Photographs and video recorded before the police moved in seemed to show the protesters, including Ms Sabbagh, standing peacefully outside the Air France KLM office in Talaat Harb Square near Tahrir. As officers charged at the protesters guns drawn shots rang out and Ms. Sabbagh fell to the pavement. Al-Sabbagh was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Egypt: Protesters vent fury at islands’ handover

Tuesday 26th April 2016

Cairo police break up demonstrations over Saudi Arabia deal

by Our Foreign Desk

POLICE fired tear gas and birdshot yesterday to break up protests against the ceding of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Demonstrators called on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to resign over the decision to surrender the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, in the second such protest in two weeks.

Riyadh placed the islands under Cairo’s protection in 1950 for fear that the newly created state of Israel would invade them.

General Sissi announced the territories’ cession during a state visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman earlier this month. Egypt is part of the Saudi-led coalition attacking Yemen.

Thousands of police and troops were deployed on the streets of Cairo before the marches on Sinai Liberation Day, marking the final pullout of Israeli occupation forces from the peninsula in 1982.

Many of the organisers’ gathering points were sealed off by police, including the offices of the doctors’ and journalists’ unions.

Pedestrians near the Press Syndicate building were stopped by police, who asked for identity documents and their destinations before turning many of them away.

Minibuses loaded with plainclothes police were also deployed at expected flashpoints.

A group of some 500 protesters led by prominent activists managed to gather in Mesaha square.

Their chants of “leave, leave,” directed at Gen Sissi, echoed across the square, along with “bread, freedom, the islands are Egyptian.”

Police in full riot gear arrived 10 minutes later and immediately fired tear gas and birdshot. The protesters fled and regrouped in smaller gatherings on nearby streets.

From their flats’ balconies, the square’s pro-government residents shouted “traitors” at the demonstrators below and poured water on them.

Later, plainclothes police were seen by reporters kicking and slapping protesters they had arrested.

Several websites reported that Michel George, the Cairo manager for news agency Reuters, had fled the country yesterday morning after police opened an investigation against him.

Mr George was questioned by police after he published comments by officers and intelligence sources that murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni had been “detained by police and then transferred to a compound run by homeland security the day he vanished.”

Japanese government among world’s worst press freedom violators


This video says about itself:

Press Freedom in Japan in 2016 | Tokyo on Fire

19 December 2015

Japan passed a controversial State Department Secrets law in December of 2013 that has ever since been met with significant resistance. One of the most contentious points is that it punishes both distributers and recipients of SDS material (so, a reporter and a newspaper publisher, for example) with a minimum of 2 years in jail and fine of ¥500,000. Get the details with Timothy, Michael, and Nancy on this important episode of Tokyo on Fire!

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

How Japan came to rank worse than Tanzania on press freedom

By Jake Adelstein

April 20, 2016

The state of press freedom in Japan is now worse than that in Tanzania, according to a new ranking from the non-profit group Reporters Without Borders.

A group which is usually favourably biased towards the political and economic establishments in NATO countries, and in other rich countries like Japan.

Japan came in 72nd of the 180 countries ranked in the group’s 2016 press freedom index, falling 11 places since last year. …

For Japan’s journalists, things have taken a turn for the worse relatively recently. Just six years ago, the country ranked 11th in the world.

In the graph which accompanies the Los Angeles Times article, the absolute monarchy Brunei is the worst in the world in decline in press freedom. Poland is third worst.

Japan’s poor performance on press freedom is particularly surprising given its standing as one of the world’s leading developed countries. The island nation of 125 million people has the world’s third-largest economy and a vibrant democracy whose postwar constitution guarantees freedoms of speech, press and assembly.

“With Japan hosting the G7 meeting next month of leading democracies, the press crackdown is an international black eye for Japan and makes it an outlier in the group,” said Jeff Kingston, a professor of history and director of Asian studies at Temple University and author of the book “Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s.”

The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant set the stage for the erosion of press freedoms, Kingston said. “Japan’s slide in the rankings began with the incomplete coverage of the Fukushima meltdowns and the government’s efforts to downplay the accident; Tokyo Electric Power Company (and Japan) denied the triple meltdown for two months,” he said. “Sadly, the Japanese media went along with this charade because here it is all about access. Those media outlets that don’t toe the line find themselves marginalized by the powers that be. Since [Fukushima], Japan’s culture wars over history, constitutional revision and security doctrine have been fought on the media battlefield.”

When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned for a second term in 2012, five years after he resigned abruptly amid growing unpopularity in 2007, his administration began cracking down on perceived bias in the nation’s media.

At first, the media didn’t hold back in criticizing his administration. The press lambasted Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso for saying that Japan should learn from the way the Nazi party stealthily changed Germany’s constitution before World War II. But critics say Aso’s suggestion foreshadowed things to come.

Two years ago, the Abe administration pushed through a state secrets bill ostensibly designed to prevent classified information from leaking to China or Russia. But the measure allows for journalists and bloggers to be jailed for up to five years for asking about something that is a state secret, even if they aren’t aware it is one. Thousands protested the law when it was passed on Dec. 6, 2013.

Abe’s friend, conservative businessman Katsuto Momii, became the head of Japan’s major public broadcasting company, NHK, in 2014, in a move that has compromised the independence of its reports. Momii has stated publicly that NHK “should not deviate from the government’s position in its reporting.”

Abe’s Liberal Democratic party also recently proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to curtail speech that “harms the public interest and public order.”

In June 2015, members of the party urged the government to punish media outlets critical of the government and pressure companies not to advertise with them.

This year, Abe’s Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi threatened to shut down news broadcasters over “politically biased reports” — something TV and radio laws in Japan empower her to do.

A week later, three television presenters who had been critical of the Abe administration were all removed from their positions.

Veteran reporters in Japan have criticized Abe’s government for applying pressure to reporters, but also decry the increasing self-censorship going on in the country’s press. “To me, the most serious problem is self-restraint by higher-ups at broadcast stations,” Soichiro Tahara, one of the country’s most revered journalists, told reporters last month.

“The Abe administration’s threats to media independence, the turnover in media personnel in recent months and the increase in self-censorship within leading media outlets are endangering the underpinnings of democracy in Japan,” Reporters Without Borders concluded in its report released this month about declining media freedoms in Japan.

“Independence of the press is facing serious threats,” David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Tuesday. “Many journalists who came to me and my team asked for anonymity in our discussions. Many claimed to have been sidelined or silenced following indirect pressure from politicians.”

The state originally invited Kaye to visit last December, but the trip was canceled abruptly after Japanese authorities claimed to be unable to set up meetings in time.

Kaye called for Japan’s Broadcast Law to be revised to ensure press freedom, and criticized Japan’s press club structure as detrimental to an independent press. In Japan, reporters are granted access through press clubs, or “kisha clubs,” formed around groups and government organizations. They serve as gatekeepers, and typically don’t grant access to weekly magazines, like Shukan Bunshun, which excel at investigative journalism.

“Journalists in those kisha clubs tend to be focused very much together in this same kind of social network. And I think that allows for mechanisms of pressure. It may be a kind of peer pressure that’s very difficult to resist,” Kaye said.